The Autism Advantage

16. maj 2022

What is the Autism Advantage? Many autistic people have deep knowledge and a finely honed skill set within a narrow field of expertise. We are persistent and detail oriented. We see the world from a different perspective and use that vantage point to come up with innovative solutions.

The Autism Advantage: deep skills

The Autism Advantage is that extra “something” Specialisterne can offer companies who invest in autistic and neurodivergent employees.

It’s important to keep in mind that autistic people are just as different from one another as are all people. Our specific skill sets are a reflection of our unique interests and skills. However, our strength can be found in the depth of our skills.

Whatever our area of interest, you can expect us to be experts, reliable and tenacious – and just as importantly – we are innovative.

At Specialisterne, we want to highlight the Autism Advantage.

In our experience, most companies have tasks that require thorough and tenacious employees who do not shy away from pointing out errors or fallacies. But that is not the type of employee sought after in job ads. Often, the most skilled programmers, analysts or accountants are not comfortable with change and are not great at juggling many things at once – both qualities that are often sought after in job ads. In other words, companies miss out on recruiting the Autism Advantage, because they seek out candidates with qualities that are usually not found in autistic people.

Specialisterne was created specifically to challenge this. We want to change the work market to be more inclusive. We believe that all companies can benefit from actively employing neurodivergent people.

When is the Autism Advantage actually an advantage?

We see how obvious the Autism Advantage is, when our consultants are capable of solving tasks at a higher quality and more efficiently than non-autistic employees.

This is a pattern we see repeated again and again in our collaborations with companies. They often come to us with complex and resource intensive tasks that they realise have so far been dealt with ineffectively. Our consultants are highly skilled at solving these problems in innovative and qualitatively better ways.

In the end, the companies get solutions that are simultaneously better and require fewer ressources. This is the Autism Advantage.

You can read examples of our collaborations with companies such as Novo Nordisk, The City of Copenhagen, YouSee and more here.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

In diagnostic manuals, autistic people are described as “lacking” certain qualities, especially as it pertains to social skills. But if we flip that script, you might say that the rest of the world “lacks” something when it comes to finding the most effective paths to problem solving – no matter what the social norms dictate.

In a way, autistic employees approach their work life in much the same way as the child in the fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by H. C. Andersen. Everyone around the emperor is wooed by the illusion of fine garments – i.e. “a job well done”, because of the intense social pressure to pretend the emperor is, in fact, not naked. The autistic eye – the child in the story – sees right through the social theatre and simply states:

“But he hasn’t got anything on!”

To autistic people, it is more important to state the naked fact of the emperor’s nudity than to adhere to the social norms that make it inappropriate to speak up about inconvenient truths. We simply cannot ignore the swindlers doing their job badly.

If you translate this to a work setting, it is equivalent to an autistic employee frankly saying that there is a better way of getting the work done – even if it goes against the established narrative within the organisation. To autistic people, doing the work properly is often more important than adhering to the social norms.

A company willing to open up to an autistic employee’s feedback will get a significant advantage.

Especially when it comes to solving complex tasks that require expertise, diligence and zero errors. Autistic employees will put their intense focus and deep knowledge into doing the work in the best possible way.

Because we are less tied down by social norms and “this is how we always do things”, we are great at innovating in our work life. We often go way beyond the surface level and find new pathways to solving problems. If the company is willing to listen and give us the extra time and resources needed, our divergent thinking becomes an innovative edge. In other words, if companies are willing to actively recruit people skilled autistic employees, they will undoubtedly benefit from the Autism Advantage.

The text above was written by Eline, Communications Assistant at Specialisterne.